Griner has block party in Baylor victory
Brittney Griner now has the record she has always wanted.
How about a block party for the two-time All-American from Baylor who already holds the NCAA women’s record with 11 dunks and is a three-point play from becoming the Big 12’s career scoring leader.
Griner set the NCAA career record for blocked shots, getting the record-tying and record-setting blocks by swatting away a pair of shots by Oklahoma’s Aaryn Ellenberg, as the top-ranked Lady Bears won 82-65 Saturday for their 50th consecutive win at home.
“Definitely happy I got that. Now I’m going to try to set it higher,” the 6-foot-8 Griner said. “Blocked shots keep the other team from scoring, that’s just how I look at it. Blocked shots kind of remind me when I played volleyball, I used to love to spike. … That’s why I like (blocks) the most.”
With eight in the game, Griner has 665 career blocks, two more than Louella Tomlinson had for St. Mary’s in California (2007-11).
“As good as she is on the offensive end, where she really changes games is on the defensive end,” Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said. “She obviously has the wingspan and the athleticism, but she also has that ornate sense that I think all great shot blockers have knowing when to go get it.”
By fouling out for only the second time in her 131 career games, Griner missed a chance to also break the Big 12 scoring record before the Lady Bears (18-1, 8-0 Big 12) play their next two games on the road. Her 2,833 career points are two shy of matching Oklahoma State’s Andrea Riley’s (2007-10).
Griner finished with 15 points to lead six players in double figures for Baylor, which has won 36 consecutive Big 12 regular-season and tournament games since a loss to Oklahoma in the conference tournament three years ago.
Odyssey Sims had 12 points and 10 assists while Destiny Williams had 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Ellenberg had 33 points for the Sooners (15-4, 5-2). Joanna McFarland had 12 points and 16 rebounds.
Griner got her 663rd career block with just under 13 minutes left. A similar play with 10:25 remaining was Griner’s seventh of the game and broke Tomlinson’s record.
With 5:14 to go, Griner was called for a foul on another shot by Ellenberg. It was the first time she fouled out since the second game of her freshman season.
“Disappointed I fouled out at the end of the game,” Griner said.
That came less than a minute after Griner was called for a charge against McFarland for the second time in the game.
In a 30-second span of the first half, McFarland drew charges against Griner and Jordan Madden and hit a 3-pointer in between.
“It’s not like a fear. You’ve just got to go in and bow up, like if she goes hard at me, I’ve got to go hard back,” McFarland said. “It’s a mutual thing.”
McFarland’s long-range shot pulled the Sooners within 26-21, but they never got closer.
The Sooners made 11 of 26 3-pointers, but were just 9 of 46 inside the arc.
“I’m really proud of our guys, I thought we competed and fought every step of the way, and did some really, really good things and attacked them, and went after them, and shot pretty well from 3,” Coale said. “Obviously did not shoot well from 2, but there’s a big reason for that. Her number’s 42 (Griner).”
Oklahoma won the opening tip and Ellenberg immediately hit a 3-pointer. The Sooners were up 10-8 when Ellenberg hit another 3 from the top left of the key 4 minutes later.
Baylor then scored 14 points in a row over the next 5 minutes and took the lead for good. The spurt ended with consecutive baskets by Brooklyn Pope, who finished with 10 points like Kimetria Hayden and Jordan Madden.
Even after shooting 60 percent from the field (35 of 58) and having six players in double figures against the Big 12’s second-place team, there were still things for Baylor coach Kim Mulkey to emphasize to her team.
“You have to evaluate yourself and say if you shot like that and had that many players in double figures, why did you only win by 17?,” Mulkey said. “Well then it goes back to two things. One, missed free throws, they make free throws. We missed 14 free throws, that’s unacceptable. Then they made a lot of 3’s.”
Not nearly enough though.
No. 2 NOTRE DAME 89, PROVIDENCE 44
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Skylar Diggins scored 21 points, all in the first half when she was 9-of-9 shooting, and Notre Dame dominated Providence from the start, beating the Friars to win its 13th straight.
Diggins took a pass from Kayla McBride on the opening tip-off to score an easy layup 4 seconds in, becoming the fourth Irish player to ever score 2,000 career points. She then quickly got started on moving to her next milestone, hitting from inside, mid-range and behind the 3-point line as Providence (6-13, 1-5 Big East) could do nothing to slow her. The only mistake Diggins made in the first half was to miss a free throw as the Irish (18-1, 7-0) jumped to a 46-15 lead.
Tori Rule led the Friars with 12 points, all in the second half.
No. 3 CONNECTICUT 67, CINCINNATI 31
CINCINNATI — Stefanie Dolson scored 15 points in limited time, and Connecticut’s tough, physical defense allowed only nine points in the first half, setting up a victory over Cincinnati.
UConn (18-1, 5-1 Big East) has won six in a row since a 73-72 loss to Notre Dame on Jan. 5. The Huskies were coming off a 30-point win over No. 4 Duke on Monday night, outscoring the Blue Devils 47-19 in the second half.
They put this one away in the first half, allowing a season-low nine points.
The Bearcats (8-11, 0-6) have lost six in a row overall. They’ve been held to 45 points or fewer in each of last four games. Alyesha Lovett led Cincinnati with nine points.
UConn is 8-0 all-time against Cincinnati. Coach Jamelle Elliott, a former UConn player and assistant to Geno Auriemma, fell to 0-4 against her former team.
No. 24 IOWA STATE 53, WEST VIRGINIA 49
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Hallie Christofferson scored 23 points and grabbed seven boards in Iowa State’s win over West Virginia.
Nikki Moody and Chelsea Poppens added 10 apiece for the Cyclones, who snapped a two-game losing streak.
Iowa State (14-4, 5-3 Big 12), which trailed 37-25 35 seconds into the second half, shot just 39 percent (16 of 41) from the field, but nine of those shots came from 3-point range. The Cyclones rallied to tie the game 43-all with 6:24 left to play on Christofferson’s trey.
Ayana Dunning scored West Virginia’s next six points to make it 51-49 with a little over 2 minutes remaining, but the Mountaineers (11-8, 3-5) missed their next four shots and two free throws as Iowa State pulled away.
Dunning led West Virginia with 17 points, but the Mountaineers, who shot 41 percent (19 of 46) made just 5 of 10 free throws.
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